Saturday, February 25, 2012

On Ice Warmup

Everyone has an on ice warmup. Those of you who are younger may just be able to step on the ice and do a few strokes, then do some jumps and spins. Not me. I have to actually do both an off ice and an on ice warmup. I've written about the off ice warmup elsewhere. This is about the on ice warmup.

I start out with stroking around the rink twice, doing double knee bend stroking. This is where you stroke onto the outside edge, with a deep kneebend, then rise upward, and as you drop down again, stroke into a deep kneebend onto the right outside edge. If my legs are still cold I do another round.

Next I do alternating crossovers. This is just crossovers down the rink the first set CW, then the next set  CCW,  The first couple of sets are clunky, but once they're smooth, I add a strong underpush complete with the toepick being the last part of the blade off the ice (The Twinkle Toes Maneuver) and a strong  free foot extension to the rear.

I'm now on exercise 3--outside swing rolls. I like to get  strong shoulder action here, and after one or two sets, I really start to work on getting the extension of the free leg as high as I  can both forward and back.

When I'm happy with that, I switch to inside swingrolls which I'm finally comfortable with.

One of the things I haven't mentioned is that I work on starting from a stop for all exercises without favoring either leg as a starting leg. My right leg is my power leg, and it's my prefered starting leg. However, I make myself alternate legs as the initiating legs for all exercises. I think favoring one leg is a real beginner skater habit, and I'm trying to break it.

After the exercises down the sides, I usually do inside and outside edges across the rink a few times, and then take a stab at both outside and inside figure 8's.

If I have time I do some chasse's down the rink and work on my power. Finally, some 3 turns and mohawks, aiming for smoothness and elegance,

In all these exercises I work on positioning of my upper body, and my extension. 

Nothing spectacular here. I'm a beginner skater and I spend time working on beginner things: edge control, power, finesse, and posture. I'd like to add alternating back crossovers and power 3's, but in midwinter, the rink is just to crowded to go backwards without a spotter.

This warmup is long because of my age. I know you youngsters don't have  to do long warmups, but I think everyone benefits by establishing a warm up program with set goals and objectives. Mine will change,  and as soon as the crowds go away, I'll make some adjustments to mine.


  1. The problem with including a good on-ice warmup in your practice is that you probably will not get one for your tests. Test warmups tend to be only about 5 minutes, and they can be a long time before the actual test.

    I find edge pulls to be particularly effective for warming up.

    1. Babbette: Your on-ice warm up sounds very much like what I'm doing. I add a few one-leg power pulls on each leg (or at least my weak version of that element) to the line up of items you mention. I still find that it takes bunch of laps and futzing about before my legs, joints etc. report for work with any precision and I'm never ever warmed up the way I'd like to be at the beginning of a 30 lesson. I'll go reread your off-ice warm up routine. I'm still trying to define one for myself that is complete, easy to remember(!) and fits the confines of a typical ice rink. Unlike AMS I'm not too concerned about the short warm up times permitted at tests and competitions. If I ever get to that rarefied estate I'm shameless enough that whatever my semi-warmed over body can produce on the ice is what the judges will jolly well get! For me warming up (and cooling down) is more about injury avoidance.

    2. Power pulls are an excellent warmup, but I can't do them. To the despair of my coach I can't quite get everything to work.

      @AMS -- I haven't developed a pre-test warmup yet, although I've been thinking about it. This warmup is more for getting my elderly lady legs ready for practicing my dances with power.

      @George--'report for work' , yes that's how I feel about getting everything ready. I don't want to learn on stiff joints, they need to be ready to work.

  2. I agree with the point about testing warmups, and that has challenged me.

    I actually do an even gentler warm-up.
    -swizzle, slalom, stroke once around to check the ice and Zam bumps coach wants one push to take me the length of the rink; I'm at 3/4ths or more right now. It helps me balance over my blade and check out how my body feels that day.
    -a blade awareness drill; basically two-foot rocked turns on a line, forward and backward, both ways. One-footed is the more advanced version. Again, I get a feel for my body and blades, and I do it fast if the rink's cold so I get warmer in my muscles.
    -Forward and backward circle eights.
    -Cross-over zigzags, forward and backward
    -Power 3 turns, forward
    Then I vary it depending on what I've figured out about my body and skating, or jump into whatever I'm working on. I know there's a dorky deliberateness to this warmup, but I am nearly forty and have broken a few bones in my belated foray into figure skating, and it's actually very enjoyable and calming for me. My falls are looser and gentler these days, may they continue to slip on without pain!